The Main Thing -07
keeping the main thing the main thing
Today I want to speak with you about the “Main Thing.” What we must be sure of especially at this time in the life of our church is that we are keeping the “Main Thing, the Main Thing!” If we are not doing this one thing, that is, keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing, then everything else that we are doing is irrelevant and futile.
So we must ask ourselves this morning, “are we keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing?” By now, some of you are totally confused and others are wondering, what is wrong with our pastor? And just what is the Main Thing anyway? Very simply, the Main Thing is: Loving God, Loving People and Making Disciples!
As a church and as a people we have so much to be thankful for and we have all been incredibly blessed by God at every level of our lives. We live in the one of the greatest nations the world has ever know, enjoying a higher standard of living, freedoms and personal liberties that most of the world can’t even imagine. But above all the physical blessings, if we have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, we have been spiritually favored beyond our ability to describe it.
Look again at what Jesus said in John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
We have been chosen, we have been ordained and we have been given the amazing privilege of prayer by a God who truly loves and care for us! But the favor and blessings of God have not been given to us without specific intent and purpose. They have not been lavished upon us to just to be consumed and used up for our own self-gratification and pleasure.
As members of the body of Christ we have a greater responsibility. All things are given to us by God to be used and enjoyed but we must also begin to examine what is that we have been called upon by God to do with what we have been given. Remember that James spoke directly to us all when he said, “Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
It is high time that we get back to the Main Thing and make sure we are keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing! To better understand how to keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing, I want us to focus upon the three “E’s”, or the three elements that make up the “Main Thing.” They are:
1. Exaltation – Worship, Loving God
2. Evangelism – Outreach, Loving People
3. Edification – Discipleship Training, Making Disciples.
I. the great commandment - exaltation
Matthew 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
A. This is by Jesus’ own declaration “the greatest commandment.” These religious leaders were trying their best to entrap the Master and find something by with which they could accuse Him.
1. Each sect had their own special emphasis that they had placed on certain aspects of the law of God and used them to exclude all those who did not see things their way.
2. This doesn’t sound much different from our day, does it?
3. There are many who form their own opinions on the scripture, then use them to divide the Body of Christ instead of uniting it.
2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.)
B. Jesus would not fall for this petty trick of these shallow men, instead, He cut to the heart of the matter and revealed to them the core of what we call the “Main Thing.”
1. Here it is: Love God with everything in you, and Love other People just as you love yourself.
2. There it is, now we just need to listen do what the Master says! How often make the gospel difficult and complicated when all that is truly required is child-like faith and obedience.
C. Every Christian should be a Great Commandment Christian, and every church should a Great Commandment Church. This must become our highest priority.
1. To love God with the totality of our being and then love our neighbors as we love our selves.
2. Obedience to this great commandment puts us in the right relationship with God and our fellow man so that the riches and fullness of Christ can be released into our lives.
3. Righteousness is position with God, it is right standing with God and it can only come to bear in our lives through repentance, faith and then obedience!
4. When we as a people begin to truly walk in this great commandment it will then begin to motivate us to fulfill the next element of the Main Thing.
II. the great commission - evangelism
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
A. It is in this passage of scripture that we find the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to His first followers but also to all true believers of every subsequent generation.
1. This is the commission given to the church to carry out its mission which is worldwide evangelism.
B. There is to be preaching, teaching, repentance and baptism, but the imperative clause that is used here by Jesus puts the emphasis one the main thing: Make Disciples. (3rd “E”)
1. Jesus never intended for our evangelism and mission efforts to only result in conversions or the enlargement of denominations and the local church membership.
2. The focus is not decisions, professions of faith or church membership!
3. The focus here is making disciples! Raising up men and women who will passionately follow Jesus with their whole hearts that separate themselves from the world and become living examples to the lost that surround them.
C. The Great Commandment teaches us that we are to love God with our mind soul and strength and the Great Commission teaches us that we are to be directly involved in reaching the lost that are still bound by sin and its deception.
1. But once they are reached, we are to teach them how to become disciples, devoted disciplined followers of Jesus.
2. But I want to emphasize that this is not just accomplished in the classroom setting and a twelve week course but by the example of how we live our daily lives!
3. This is our calling to this community, to our state and nation, and every one of us has a part to play, we are all workers in His kingdom.
III. a biblical model for evangelism
A. Now that we have looked to the Commandment and the Commission we have to make a decision. How do we plan to implement what Jesus has spoken to us through His Word.
1. There are many methods of evangelism, many types of programs and outreaches that are being used with great success throughout the kingdom of God.
2. But the methods that others are using may or may not work for us.
B. What I want to suggest to you this morning is a Biblical style of evangelism that we are already using but perhaps not as intentionally as we should be.
1. Look at the book mark you were given when you came in.
2. You will find on one side of it the basic outline to successful Biblical evangelism or better said, “relationship evangelism” that I believe will revolutionize our outreach into this community.
C. There are three words are the core and foundation to our strategy “Find, Tell and Bring”, and it is a strategy that is found over and over in the Bible.
1. Let us look to the scripture and find the precedent that was long ago established and see how we can apply it in our lives today.
John 1:40-42 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).
2. Notice the progression of events in this passage of scripture after Andrew hears Jesus.
a.) First, he finds his brother Simon Peter. (vs. 41a)
b.) Second, he tells him about Jesus. (vs. 41b)
c.) Then, He brings him personally to meet the Christ. (vs. 42)
3. Where did he go to evangelize? He reached back into his own family and closest relationships.
D. Now lets look at another example in this same chapter of John.
John 1:44-46 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
1. Once again we find the pattern repeating itself.
a.) First, Philip finds Nathanael. (vs. 45a)
b.) Second, Philips tells Nathanael about Jesus the Messiah. (vs. 45b)
c.) Then, He brings him to Jesus to see for himself. (vs. 46)
E. Let’s take just one more example, the woman at the well in John’s 4th chapter.
John 4:25-30 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." 27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
1. Again, the same pattern is repeated.
a.) The woman has had an encounter with Christ.
b.) She goes and finds the men of her village and tells them about Messiah.
c.) Then she brings them to Him!
IV. Our strategy
A. The process is the same over and over again because the statistics plainly tell us that 90% of all the people who come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ do so through a close relationship with a friend or family member.
1. What is the common denominator? Relationship!
B. In the Gospels there are accounts of 40 people that came to Jesus for deliverance or physical healing. Out of the 40, 34 were brought by a friend or family member. That’s 85%!
1. Friendship is the bridge to Jesus for most people who come to salvation!
2. Relationship is the key word.
C. What can we do? Simple, Find someone and Build and authentic relationship with them.
1. Love them until they ask you why!
2. New Christians don’t have a problem with this, they are telling everyone about Jesus.
3. Veteran Christians are the ones that I worry about! We tend to become sheltered, or cloistered in our churches and never seek to venture outside them. They are safe!
4. The South American evangelist Luis Palow said,
“The church is like manure. If you pile it up, it sinks up the neighborhood. If you spread it all around, it enriches the earth!”
D. We must Find unbelievers and “Intentionally” build authentic relationships with them so that, we can earn the right to speak into their lives.
1. How do you do that? Love them until they ask you why!
E. The first part of this Finding is that we have to make a Love List.
1. Take out the bookmark, look on the back.
2. Take a minute or two and write down no less than three names of people you know, within your sphere of influence that you might be able to build a relationship with.
3. Then the most important step, read the small dark blue print at the bottom.
4. “I will pray for these people, and ask God to give me the opportunity to tell them and bring them.
F. Prayer is the key! If we will believe and pray God will open the doors for us to speak to them. Then we can Build relationship through Loving them until they ask us why, which leads to our next step.
2. tell them about jesus.
A. Remember, Andrew found Peter, Philip found Nathanael and the woman at the well found the men of the city, then they all told the others about Jesus.
B. Once we have built a relationship with someone, then we have earned the right to tell them about Christ.
1. Sharing Christ is not hard so don’t try to make it complicated!
2. Just tell about what He has done in your life.
3. Share how much you love Him and where He has brought you from.
C. Think about it. Which is hardest share, Good news or Bad news? Easy answer, Bad news.
1. We have the Best news in the world and therefore it should be the easiest to share!
2. Jesus is the savior and if we truly know Him and really love Him, it should be the easiest thing in our lives to talk about.
3. Maybe this should serve to challenge us! How much do I love Him? How easy is it to talk about Him? (Compare to your new car, new job, new diamond ring or shotgun!)
D. If you truly have built an authentic relationship then that person will be much more likely to listen to you than a complete stranger.
1. Share with them and ask them to receive Jesus.
2. But don’t be discouraged. Most people when they first hear about Christ are not always receptive. (There are exceptions)
3. Go to the next step!
3. Bring them to jesus.
A. Now you might be thinking, “How am I going to do that? Jesus isn’t here in the flesh any longer!”
1. But He is! He is embodied right here, right now in us! Didn’t he say, “whenever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst.” Matthew18:20
2. The Church is the physical representation of Christ.
3. We must invite them and bring them, even if we have to go and pick them up!
B. This church, and I am speaking of this body of people not the building, should be a place where every hungry and hurting souls is welcomed, loved, accepted and given an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. As a rule our church services and activities are designed top to bottom for Christians. When outsiders come they feel just like outsiders. Our place is to make feel them like long lost loved ones who have finally returned home!
1. Welcomed and at ease. Physically comfortable, then we trust in God to do the rest by His Spirit’s presence.
2. Jesus was the friend of sinners, they were drawn to Him. Are they drawn to us or do we repel them!
D. Arch Bishop Temple said this, “The church is the only organization that exists for the people who are not yet in it!”
1. Sadly, many churches are quite content to keep the ones they have and not allow any one else unless they meet the membership criterion.
2. Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest!”
E. Let’s ask ourselves some questions:
1. Are we warm and accepting of outsiders?
2. Are we willing to let all races, classes, and types of people worship with us?
3. Do we really trust God to work through the teaching, preaching, and the music?
4. Have we ever tried to see our church through the eyes of a visitor?
F. This church should be a safe place to hear the dangerous life changing message of Jesus Christ!
Why do we want to do evangelism like this? Because it is the kind that really works! Surveys suggest that only 5-10% of professing Christians are truly called or gifted in evangelism, but the Great Commission was directed to all of us! What about the other 90%?
For years church members have been hammered for not witnessing or sat through evangelism courses for weeks on end that convinced everybody, even the preacher that it was the hardest thing in the world to accomplish. But it is not so and we will not be that type of church!
What then must we do? Look at the bookmark:
1. Find someone and Build and authentic relationship with them. Love them till they ask you why!
2. When they ask why, Tell them about Jesus. Just share what you know about Christ with them.
3. Then Bring them with you to church. How many people in your sphere of influence are just one invitation away from eternal life?
Do the Post it Notes!
A. As many names as you wrote down on your Love List now take a Post it note for each and write only one name on each note.
B. We must keep the Main Thing the Main Thing! As the Body of Christ we are called to…
1. Love God - Exaltation
2. Love People - Evangelism
3. Make Disciples - Edification
Stick Post It Notes on the Walls
Jesus saw the harvest in His day and He sees it still in ours:
John 4:35 Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
B. Look at the harvest! Theses are our mission field! This is what we as Church on the Hill are supposed to be about.
1. What would happen if we could reach all of these?
2. Remembering that each one of these represents a family, a neighborhood, a community.
We have been blessed as a people, as a church, but are we keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing?
It is now time to Pray, and then Find, Tell and Bring!